What is the significance of the title of The Chosen by Chaim Potok?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The title of this novel alludes to the way in which the Jews were a chosen people by God. This of course relates to the political backdrop of the novel as the creation of Israel--the homeland for the Jews that was the "Promised Land" God gave to them in the Bible--is decided during the course of the novel. However, the title also relates much more personally to the character of Danny Saunders and his own destiny. As he makes clear to Reuven early on in the novel, just as the Jews are a chosen people of God, so too is he a chosen person in terms of his destiny and his expected future. Note what he says to Reuven:

"I have no choice," he said again. "It's like a dynasty. If the son doesn't take the father's place, the dynasty falls apart. The people expect me to become their rabbi. My family has been their rabbi for six generations now... I'm--I'm a little trapped."

Danny Saunders is chosen by his father to be his replacement and to inherit the position of leader of his people, and it is this issue of being chosen that results in the massive conflict that lies at the heart of this novel as Danny has to battle between his father's expectations of him and his own desire to do something different.


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nzygmont | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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According to their culture, Jews are the chosen people who are set apart from others because of their obligation to God.  The Chosen is the story of two Jewish boys, Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter, and their long and complicated friendship.  While Danny's family is very orthodox, Reuven's is more liberal.  Both of the boys have been chosen to follow a specified path based on this.  However, the two struggle with this.  Danny is obligated to take his father's place as Rabbi, however, he would prefer to go into sciences.  Reuven, although raised liberally, becomes a Rabbi, instead.  Therefore, the title refers to the irony of the paths the two boys are given and the paths they chose to follow in the end.

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